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U Visa -Beyond Immigration Status!


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U Visa -Beyond Immigration Status!

  1. 1. U visa- beyond immigration status-Visa for victims of crime By Ashima Arora* The U visa Category U nonimmigrant visa was created with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of alien s and other crimes violating laws of United States while, at the same time, offer protection to victims of such crimes[1] who may by be here illegally and hesitant to report but for this protection. The ineligibility due to illegal entry or unauthorized employment or other violation of visa status are waived under U visa. Petition for U Non-immigrant Status: The petition [2] for such status can be filed either inside or outside the United States. USCIS may grant no more than 10,000 U-1 nonimmigrant visas in any given fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). This does not apply to derivative family members such as spouses, children or other qualifying family members [3] who are accompanying or following to join the principal foreign national victim. If not admissible to enter the United States as a foreign national, an applicant for a U visa must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility through submission of a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant. This waiver is adjudicated by the Vermont Service Center of USCIS on a discretionary basis, allowing the petitioner to continue with the U nonimmigrant visa process. Application Process for U-1 Non-Immigrant Visa: Form I-918, Supplement A  I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status  I-918 Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U--1 Recipient  I-918 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification  Police Report  Statement of Victim  Documents relating to the criminal activity  Documents related to the impact of criminal activity on the victim Duration U nonimmigrant status cannot exceed four years. However, extensions are available upon certification by a certifying agency that the foreign nationals presence in the United States is required to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity. And after three years on U visa principal
  2. 2. applicant can file for a green card ceteris peribus. The qualifying family members of a U-1 nonimmigrant arealso eligible for green card.Impact of Removal proceedings[4]Petitioners in pending immigration proceedings: An alien who is in removal proceedings under section 240of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1229a, or in exclusion or deportation proceedings initiated under former sections 236 or242 of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1226 and 1252 (as in effect prior to April 1, 1997), and who would like to apply for Unonimmigrant status must file a Form I-918 directly with USCIS. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) counsel may agree, as a matter of discretion, to file, at the request of the alien petitioner, a joint motionto terminate proceedings without prejudice with the immigration judge or Board of Immigration Appeals,whichever is appropriate, while a petition for U nonimmigrant status is being adjudicated by USCIS.Petitioners with final orders of removal, deportation, or exclusion: An alien who is the subject of a final orderof removal, deportation, or exclusion is not precluded from filing a petition for U-1 nonimmigrant statusdirectly with USCIS. The filing of a petition for U-1 nonimmigrant status has no effect on ICEs authority toexecute a final order, although the alien may file a request for a stay of removal pursuant to 8 CFR 241.6(a)and 8 CFR 1241.6(a). If the alien is in detention pending execution of the final order, the time during which astay is in effect will extend the period of detention (under the standards of 8 CFR 241.4) reasonablynecessary to bring about the petitioners removal.Application Process For Green card through U visaA person admitted and physically present on U visa for three years can apply for adjustment of status to agreen card holder. There is no numerical cap on U visa adjustment applications. The person should nothave refused assistance to law enforcement agencies in the persecution or investigation. The principalapplicant should petition on Form I-485, along with fees and supporting documentation. Immigrant petitioncan be filed for family member who have held U non immigrant status before. The family member who hasnever held U non-immigrant status has to be petitioned on Form I-929. An applicant has the burden ofshowing that favorable discretion should be exercised in his or her favor and hardship must be shown.There are other remedies and options which may be available to victims of crime like relief under VAWA, Tvisas. But for this article we are only discussing U visa.*Attorney Ashima Arora is licensed in Texas, California (inactive), Solicitor (non-practicing) inEngland & Wales. For questions email at or call at: 713.595.6657or mail: P.O. Box 940543, Houston, TX 77094-7543
  3. 3. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a generalunderstanding of the law.[1] Qualifying Crimes – INA §101(a)(15)(U)(iii)[2] U Visa Requirements – § 101(a)(15)(U)[3] Qualifying family member means, in the case of an alien victim 21 years of age or older who is eligible forU nonimmigrant status as described in section 101(a)(15)(U) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(U), the spouseor child(ren) of such alien; and, in the case of an alien victim under the age of 21 who is eligible for Unonimmigrant status as described in section 101(a)(15)(U) of the Act, qualifying family member means thespouse, child(ren), parents, or unmarried siblings under the age of 18 of such an alien.[4] 8 CFR 214.14